The list of injuries alone made it an uphill climb for the Orange. But point guard Jonny Flynn came prepared for the challenge. In the first half, Flynn lit up the Friars' defense for 17 points. He had to pick up the slack though as SU's starting lineup included Kristof Ongenaet and Kris Joseph. Those two haven't played much and have struggled mightily, especially the Belgian who has seen very little time on the floor.
About seven minutes into the first half is when Flynn started to heat up. He drained three shots in a row for the ‘Cuse, including back-to-back trifectas. Flynn's play helped create a little space between the Orange and Friars as he capped a 6-0 scoring run with a layup to give SU a 27-21 lead.
The Friars though would cut the lead to one after five straight points from Weyinmi Efejuku. Minutes later another trey from Flynn put the Orange on top by five, but that's the largest lead SU would have for the rest of the game. Providence drained a three-pointer before the half ended to tie the game at 44 apiece.
Syracuse would grab the lead twice in the opening minutes of the second half after baskets from sophomore Rick Jackson. But it all changed quickly in the span of two minutes. The Friars went on a 10-0 scoring run to open up a nine point lead. The run was capped off by point guard Sharaud Curry.
When the deficit grew to twelve, Syracuse did its best to stay in the game. The Orange slowly chipped away and was able to cut the lead to six with just over eleven minutes remaining. But the Friars quickly pushed the lead back into double digits and before SU knew it, PC was ahead by fourteen.
Playing shorthanded and taking punch after punch from the Friars, the Orange managed to keep fighting to the very end. With a little less than two minutes remaining, a three from Eric Devendorf made the score 89-84. But it was too little, too late for SU who wasted a great performance from Flynn.
Some other observations from Syracuse's 100-94 loss at Providence:
· Did anyone have a good feeling going into this game? I don't know what it is, but playing in the Dunkin' Donuts Center never seems to be a pleasant experience for SU. Then, having to watch Onuaku run up and down the court on a gimpy leg was painful. The big man needs to be healthy for the Orange to have that dominating inside presence.
· Another thing that wasn't pretty to watch was the absolute horrendous ball-handling by the Orange. Syracuse committed 21 turnovers compared to 14 assists. That is just awful. Devendorf alone was responsible for nine of them. This is the one thing that has really plagued the Orange all year and continues to rear its ugly head time and time again.
· The final score doesn't really reflect what happened in the second half. Providence dominated the action. The Friars shot 18-of-27 (66.7 percent) from the field and finished the game with six players in double-figures. Curry led the way with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor.
· On the other side, the Orange was lead mainly by a two man band. Flynn scored a career-high 35 points which included 4-of-9 shooting from long distance. That's the Jonny Flynn Syracuse fans have been used to seeing. He absolutely exploded in this game and clearly made a statement. Too bad his other teammates didn't follow his lead. The only other one that did was Devendorf who scored 27 points and knocked down six shots from beyond the arc. Helping those two was Jackson who recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Syracuse (17-5, 5-4 Big East) has now dropped three games in a row and has a full week to think about this loss. The 15th ranked Orange come back home to host the West Virginia Montaineers on Wednesday, February 4 at 7 p.m.